North for the Winter
Under normal circumstances I’m a light packer. I dislike lugging a bulging suitcase all around the world, and one duffel bag is all I care to, or am able, to shoulder. I shudder at the thought of ever needing to drag luggage half my weight up flights of narrow stairs in our uniform suit skirt and heels. As such, only indispensable items make it onto my packing list.
However, when I heard that our company would cover all of Canada this year, I had to make an exception. My friends from Shen Yun Touring Company who performed in these cities last winter told me bone-chilling tales. I’ve never experienced such coldness in my life! You will not survive without our thickest Haglofs coat! We had to send for our boots!
I tried to ignore the fact that even the birds had flown south for the winter, yet we were crusading to meet the frost. If you know a dancer personally, you’ll probably understand that we don’t like to be cold. During our early holiday gift exchange this year (a.k.a pre-tour Secret Santa), I don’t think I ever saw so many cold-defense presents unwrapped at once. And after having endured weeks of below-freezing temperatures in the New York hills, I wanted no more. Thus come packing day—I went all out.
gloves (thickest out of five pairs… two were gifts from fellow company members)
thick long socks for the hotel
Thermal Heat Holder socks for bus rides
Heat Tech shirts and leggings
stirrup legwarmers for the theater
100% wool sweater
packable down jacket
“garbage bag” warmup pants
large pack of HotHands pocket warmers
rechargeable pocket warmer
I considered myself prepared for the unforgiving sub-Arctic. And not without a bit of pride, I called my mom to tell her so. My Boston winter-hardy mom strongly suggested purchasing some sheepskin socks. Sheepskin socks? Do those even exist, or was that a figment of her motherly outflow? I decided I could probably do without.
On Christmas day, Shen Yun World Company crossed the U.S. border and arrived at our first stop, Ottawa. The next day, Boxing Day, we had our first show.
For me, the first show of the season is always really exciting with a dash of nervousness. I don’t know if the audience knew it was our first performance, but their enthusiasm was really encouraging. (Apparently there was even an audience member who had attended about 30 shows in the nine times that Shen Yun has performed in Ottawa.) All in all, we felt really welcomed.
And you know what? It’s actually not that cold. After performing in Ottawa, Hamilton, and Montreal, I’ve yet to wear most of my thermal gear. There was only New Year’s Eve that was particularly gusty and the five-minute walk back to the hotel became a bit difficult. But overall, Eastern Canada’s been warmer than December in New York. And, unlike back home, here we’ve barely had any snow.
Perhaps not only the audience, but also the weather is happy to have us here?
Despite all the precautionary tales and the over-preparation, I realized we haven’t been dispatched to the tundra. So without anticipated difficulties such as hypothermia, snow blindness, frostbite—just joking, more like cold muscles and difficult traffic conditions—I’m filled with even more resolve to give my very best to the audience.
Speaking of resolve, we’ve been so busy with the shows that I haven’t written down my New Year’s resolutions yet. I’ll start my list with: Put my whole heart into every performance of 2020!